Roundtable: Sources and Scales of Research on Central Asian Environments 
Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (University of Tübingen)
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Room 211
Saturday 12 October, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)

Long Abstract

With a broad focus on human understandings and impacts on the environment, the field of Environmental Humanities is in the 'fortunate' position of being almost self-evidently necessary in a situation identified with increasing urgency as one of global ecological crisis. If the collective behaviour of the human species has indeed become a threat to its own survival, environmental humanities have an obvious role to play in investigating the how, why, where of this situation - and alternatives. And yet, the emerging and vibrant field of environmental humanities and history has only recently received much attention in Central Asia. There is a real urgency for bringing environmental humanities to the fore in Central Asia, particularly with the methodological and epistemological challenges that environmental topics demand, often working across disciplines and habitual time-scales. There is a need to re-think the meaning of basic notions that bring this scholarship together: if it is environment-related, what is the environment in each case? How is this concept problematised, for instance, in the light of the notion of 'SocioNatures'? Our aim for the roundtable is to put scholars from a wide range of backgrounds in conversation about the sources and scales of their investigation, their challenges and potential.

Key questions include: how have particular kinds of sources such as climate models, archival manuscripts, ethnographic fieldwork and media analyses been put to use in investigating environmental changes in the region? What are the limits and challenges of these sources, and how might they inter-relate? In what sense might particular sources contribute to producing a particular scale (e.g. territorial nation-state, dynasty, greening the economy in light of climate change)? In what ways do the traditions of scholars' disciplinary training guide the scale of analysis? Furthermore, how do we deal with contradictory evidence between different scales, or types of sources? How might a shift or combination of scales of analysis cast light on issues that would not have been seen otherwise? Looking toward the future of environmental studies from a humanities perspective in Central Asia, this roundtable will also suggest visions for developing this growing field of enquiry.

Accepted papers: